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But what is it?

Lee Phillips
September 25th, 2021

I’m at this party the other day, red plastic cup in hand, and this guy I don’t know wanders up to me and starts talking. He seems to be in the middle of a story. For a moment I wonder if I’ve met him earlier, and he’d begun at the beginning, and maybe I forgot all that. Didn’t seem likely. I haven’t had that much to drink yet, but as my new friend rambles on I feel a growing need to catch up.

The story is about something that happened to some other people that I’ve never heard of. He doesn’t bother to explain who these other people are. Does he think I know him and all his friends and relatives? Do I know him and all his friends and relatives? I wrack my brains but he still doesn’t look familiar, and I’m pretty sure I don’t recognize any of the names in his growing cast of characters.

He never makes eye contact, just kind of stares somewhere over my head while droning. I’m not sure if he even knows that anyone else is in the room with him.

Then he suddenly stops talking and walks away.

It’s not that the story was finished, as far as I can tell. But in his mind, clearly he thought that he had gotten to the end of something.

I down the rest of my warm beer, and head toward the alcohol supply when I notice somebody interesting standing by herself, idly swirling the ice in her own red plastic cup.

Ever smooth, I approach and deliver my best “How’s it going?”

She starts talking, not looking up from her ice.

“So then he said, ‘No, it’s the other one.’ But that only works if you wear the green hat. Don’t forget what Bob reminded Susan about…”

It’s happening again!

And now it’s time for a confession. None of this happened. Not literally, anyway. It’s what we call an allegory. The party is GitHub and the people are (nearly) every README file on GitHub.

You know I’m right.

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